The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Notes on faith

Handwritten notes in Bible margins can reveal much about the reader. Marginal notes from Johann Sebastian Bach reveal that the Lutheran composer wrote church music as an expression of faith and theological inquiry.

So says conductor Thomas Rossin, who went to the source — Bach's Bible. The three-volume, 1733 German translation with commentary by theologian Abraham Calov was found in 1934 among a Michigan family's possessions. The family donated the set to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, where it currently resides.

Only 3 percent of Bach's notes pertain to music.

The rest appear to be his reflections, such as this comm
ent next to a 1 Chronicles passage: "This chapter is the true foundation of all God-pleasing church music."


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